The Collecting Society of Nigeria (COSON), which remains the only Collecting Management Organisation (CMO) for obtaining royalties on behalf of musicians, since the middle of this year, has been on a crisis of leadership on account of successorship from its first and only chairman for now, Tony Okoroji.
The image of the CMO had been battered and its license suspended albeit partly by the government regulator, Nigeria Copyright Commission (NCC). Between the lingering legal tussle from the management of COSON and the regulator and even, one if its leaders, Efe Omoregbe, it has not augured well for the music industry as a whole and the resolve of its stakeholders to develop and put structure to the industry.
The CMO tasked with enforcing the performing and mechanical rights on behalf of its members by licensing music users through the collection of licence fees and then distributing them by giving royalties to musicians under its membership had done well for 18 years since 2000 when COSON started transiting from PMRS in the days of yore.
Still fighting its battles with perceived enemies in court, COSON has not had it this bad and as one that has followed the progression and has attended events by COSON, one is sad about this present development as the music industry is worse for it. Forget the buzz and hype by our own Davido, Wizkid, Tiwa Savage, Falz, Yemi Alade and others who have gained international recognition which has put the industry in the global map as one that is thriving and worth billions of dollars if well harnessed.
Erudite and astute music practitioner, Efe Omoregbe, who is one of the COSON board members and is supposed to take the reins of leadership from its founding chairman, the ebullient Tony Okoroji until the cookie crumbles, was a guest of the chief comedian, Alibaba on Sunday in his program, Alibaba Seriously, shown on NTAi. Efe Omoregbe, speaking on the crisis in COSON stated that it all began when veteran and stakeholders in music, Prof Victor Uwaifor, Evangelist Ebenezer Obey, Laolu Akins wrote a petition drawing the attention of the COSON board on issues bordering on royalties collection and the percentage and also the constitutional terms of office for the chairman of the collecting organisation. Efe stated during the program, “instead of Tony Okoroji to address the issue from these veterans and elders in COSON in our meeting, he went on talking about other agenda of the meeting as if that wasn’t important and this irked some of us and we asked questions and demanded that we should address it. All these and others snowballed into the crisis we see now – a case of a leader wanting to perpetuate himself,” Omoregbe stated.
Mr Tony Okoroji and the management should, as a matter of fact, not carry along as if it is business as usual but with a conscience, cleanse its house as the NCC and the leader, Mr Afam Ezekude, as well as Efe Omoregbe, can’t be totally wrong. It is in the domain in our industry that not everyone likes Mr Okoroji on account of his style of leadership and past achievements and this COSON crisis, if not nipped in the bud now, will affect the image of Nigerian music industry, globally. COSON rival, Music Copyright Society of Nigeria (MCSN), which has gotten its license back, has not done much for itself. The Performing Musician and Employers Association of Nigeria (PMAN) has not still recovered from its comatose state. It is about one new leader or the other emerging and elections are not even held across board. The younger generation of musicians and professionals don’t take PMAN seriously and one doesn’t know if there is a light at the end of the tunnel.
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